Fox News Guest Accuses Network Of Creating ‘Cloud Of Corruption’ Around Hillary Clinton

May 20, 2015 by  
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Fox News’ Megyn Kelly found herself defending her own network Tuesday night after attempting to criticize Hillary Clinton following a new report that Clinton had a controversial email history with Sidney Blumenthal.

Kelly brought on former White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton to discuss a New York Times report published Tuesday that revealed Blumenthal, a longtime friend of Clinton, had sent reports about Libya intelligence to Clinton’s private email address during her time as secretary of state.

Kelly said the situation “raises questions about [Clinton's] judgment,” but Burton argued that everyone in the White House has friends who send them information, and said the story will have little effect on Clinton’s reputation. He added that he found the Times report to be “a confusing story” and unclear.

Kelly pressed Burton further on why there seemed to be a “cloud of corruption that follows” Clinton, to which Burton replied, “Maybe it just only follows her around on your network.”

But it was The New York Times that broke both stories about Clinton’s private email account and her relationship with Blumenthal, Kelly pushed back.

“The right is going to take these news reports and they’re going to talk about them as much as they can, because they think that they can really make ground by going after anything that smells like scandal,” Burton said. He told Kelly that if Republicans continue to talk about Hillary Clinton at this rate, they “don’t stand a chance” in the 2016 presidential election.

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India May Have Just Published Its First ‘Gay Groom Wanted’ Ad

May 19, 2015 by  
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An newspaper in India — where gay sex was made a criminal offense in 2013 — just ran what may be the country’s first man-seeking-man matrimonial ad.

The ad, which ran this week in MiD DAY, an English-language newspaper in India, seeks a husband for Mumbai-based equal rights activist Harish Iyer. Iyer’s mother submitted the ad and was rejected by three other publications before MiD DAY accepted it.

In a Facebook post, Iyer thanked MiD DAY and its editor, Sachin Kalbag, and shared an image of the ad originally posted by Gaysi Family, an India-based gay rights group.

thanks Mid-day, thanks Sachin Kalbag

Posted by Harrish Iyer on Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The ad, which reads, “Seeking 25-40, Well-placed, Animal-Loving, Vegetarian GROOM for my SON (36, 5’11″) who works with an NGO, Caste No Bar (Though IYER Preferred),” was rejected by The Times of India, The Hindustan Times and the website dna, Iyer told BuzzFeed.

None of those publications responded immediately to HuffPost’s request for comment.

The ad has sparked some criticism for its closing parenthetical, “Though IYER Preferred.” Iyers are an upper-class rank of India’s caste system with which Iyer shares a name. He defended that portion of the ad to HuffPost India, saying it was a way for his family to try and match him with someone of a similar upbringing.

“My Mom would be happy if it was a Dalit Muslim yet vegetarian and animal loving guy,” Iyer said. “But she would love it if he happens to come from a familiar territory that she knows about. So, not really caste discrimination. It’s like you (author) saying that I would love people from any caste as an alliance, but I would love to enjoy machher jhol (fish curry, a Bengali staple) with him if he was Bengali.”

Although The Times of India refused to print the ad, it interviewed Iyer about his decision to create one.

“My mom worries about me too much,” he told the paper. “She is constantly thinking that I am getting old, will be alone, and all those concerns a mother has. So, she and I had a discussion last week and decided to go ahead with placing a matrimonial ad looking for a gay person.”

“My mum called me this morning saying three people have responded so far,” Iyer continued. “She asked me what to do next, how to proceed, so I told her, ‘proceed like you would have if you were looking for a girl for me.’”

In a statement to BuzzFeed, Kalbag said running the ad was a no-brainer.

“A marriage is a meeting of minds, of souls,” he wrote. “At mid-day, we believe that human rights should be applicable to all, regardless of religion, caste, colour, sexual orientation, etc. Therefore, a mother seeking a union for her gay son is perfectly normal. Why should it be any different? In fact, why should we even be talking about it? In an equal society, which we all strive for, this should be routine.”

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If You Care About Government Surveillance, Watch 1971 Tonight on PBS

May 18, 2015 by  
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Everyone who cares at all (one way or the other) about government surveillance should watch the documentary 1971 tonight, on the PBS show Independent Lens. Everyone who has an opinion on the Edward Snowden revelations should watch this film. Everyone who has an opinion on the USA PATRIOT Act should tune in. Disturbed by the National Security Agency’s actions? Check your local listings for when Independent Lens airs.

I say all this, mind you, before I’ve even seen the film. Full disclosure: I’m not being paid or compensated for this plug in any way, either. But I know that however the subject matter is handled by the director, it is significant enough and important enough to pay attention to. I rarely strongly recommend a film sight unseen. In fact, I rarely venture to recommend any film at all (it’s not generally what I do). But in the case of 1971, I do so because I already know the story it is going to tell. This story is not only a fascinating piece of American history few today even remember; it’s also very germane to the current public debate about government surveillance.

What happened in the year 1971 that was so important? A burglary. No, not the one at the Watergate — that was a completely separate event which wouldn’t take place until mid-1972. This burglary took place in the suburbs of Philadelphia, in the town of Media, when the local office of the FBI was broken into and all the secret files were stolen (this was 1971, so they were all paper files). The significant ones were then leaked to the media by the burglars (which was the whole point of the burglary). A whopping 40 percent of the secret files covered domestic political surveillance and investigations of political activity (with a 100-to-1 slant towards investigating liberal organizations over conservative ones). Only 1 percent of the files covered organized crime, by comparison. This shockingly showed the what the priorities of the FBI were at the time.

What happened as a direct result of this burglary is that Americans learned that J. Edgar Hoover was absolutely obsessed with infiltrating both the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement. The term “COINTELPRO” was first revealed in one of these leaked documents. What also happened (eventually) was a series of congressional hearings (the “Church Committee“) where all kinds of disturbing governmental abuses were revealed. As a result of these hearings, new limits were placed on the federal government’s ability to legally spy on its own citizens. That’s how important this burglary was. And it happened even before the Pentagon Papers were leaked (probably the most famous media leak of the era).

I learned of the details of this case from reviewing the book The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI by Betty Medsger, last year. Medsger was the reporter at the Washington Post who received the leaked documents in the mail from the burglars, and who subsequently broke the story (the documents were leaked to other media organizations and members of Congress, almost all of whom immediately reported the leak to the FBI and turned the documents in — the Post was the only one to publish the story).

When I read the book to review it, I was so impressed that I wrote not just one article interviewing the author but another two both reviewing the book and summarizing the important parts of the story told in The Burglary. I felt the story was that important, and that obscure and generally unknown today.

Medsger tracked down all the burglars (none of whom was ever caught, despite Hoover devoting hundreds of agents to the case) to write her book, which is an impressive journalistic feat, since so much time had passed. The movie 1971 was made as a collaboration with Medsger and shows these people telling their stories to the camera. As I said, I have yet to see the film, but I bet it will be well worth watching for anyone interested in the debate over government surveillance.

When I heard PBS was going to air 1971, I asked Betty Medsger if she’d give me another short interview. What follows is our conversation.

Both your book The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI and the documentary film 1971 describe the same historic events, a break-in of the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania. In what way were the two projects — your book and the film — connected?

Each of our projects is independent, but we collaborated a great deal. I had been conducting research and writing The Burglary for many years. During that time I met Johanna Hamilton, when she moved to New York from South Africa and we became friends. She expressed interest in doing a documentary on the story. I always assumed there should be a documentary and was very glad that someone as talented as Johanna wanted to make it.

How many of the eight people who were involved in the burglary will we see in the film? Did any of them refuse to publicly tell their story on camera?

You will see the same five people who were fully identified in the book: John and Bonnie Raines, the couple who had three children under age 8 at the time of the burglary; Keith Forsyth, the cab driver who took a correspondence course in order to learn how to pick the lock on the FBI office door; Bob Williamson, the social worker who was especially good at casing; and Bill Davidon, the Haverford College physics professor who conceived of the idea of breaking in in order to get documentary evidence of whether the FBI was suppressing dissent, and who was the leader of the group.

Two other people who told their stories for publication but who, for personal reasons, refused to be named in the book were not interviewed for the film. Nor was Judi Feingold, the only burglar I had not found as of the time the hardback was published. Her story, quite different from the other burglars’ stories, is told in the epilogue of the paperback. Whereas most of the burglars hid in plain sight in Philadelphia after the burglary, she went underground and lived under an assumed name west of the Rockies.

I would like to point out that Johanna uses re-enactments very effectively in the film. Because the burglary happened so long ago, she wisely felt she needed to bring it to life with re-enactments. She does so in ways that clearly distinguish those segments from present-day interviews. Audiences at film festivals and other screenings have reacted very positively to this method.

When you tracked down the original burglars to research your book, did anything surprise you about the lives they have led since? None of the burglars was ever arrested, even though J. Edgar Hoover became obsessed with tracking them down, but they must have been looking over their shoulder for a long time. Will we see in the film how the burglary significantly changed their lives afterwards?

Yes, the burglars you meet in the film do talk about how the burglary changed their lives. The worry was perhaps greatest for the Raines. They were visited, as they discuss in the film, by the man we refer to as the “ninth burglar” — the man who dropped out of the group just days before the burglary, knowing everything about their plans. He showed up on their doorstep a few weeks after the burglary and said he was thinking of turning them in. That was a harrowing moment, as you can imagine. It caused lingering fear for quite a while.

As to your question about what surprised me most, I guess I would have to say that the life led by Judi Feingold, the person who went underground, surprised me most. The youngest member of the group, 19 at the time, she is 63 now. In all that time, she had never spoken to anyone from that time in her life. She has now gone back and happily reestablished relationships she thought were gone forever. At first, she moved from farm to farm in the West, became a forest ranger for a while and then settled into life as a horticultural therapist. Recently she became a hospice attendant.

Do you think the country is changing in its views on government surveillance? After 9/11 and the USA PATRIOT Act, government surveillance was increased, but now that it’s up for renewal in Congress, several parts of it may be scrapped due to the backlash since Edward Snowden’s revelations. Do you think, in the long term, government surveillance programs will be curtailed, or increased?

I think that thanks to the discussions that have taken place as a result of the secret National Security Agency files made public by Edward Snowden in June 2013, the country and the Congress have come to oppose the government collection of metadata about all Americans’ phone calls. It appears now that the government is about stop retaining that material and be required to have a court order to get access to it from the records of the phone companies.

But there is much more surveillance — involving access to our email, our online chats and searches, just about anything one does online — that has not yet been confronted. And I think the public has not confronted most of what Snowden has revealed about NSA collection overseas about Americans and foreigners, and about its goal to be able to tap into any phone any time anywhere.

I hear that in tonight’s showing on Independent Lens, you will be featured in an additional segment. What subjects do you and the filmmaker discuss in this segment?

PBS has added a segment at the end of the screening. It is a conversation among Johanna, me and Laura Poitras, filmmaker extraordinaire. Laura, an executive producer of 1971, is the director-producer of Citizenfour, the film about Snowden that won the Academy Award this year for best documentary. She and Glenn Greenwald were the first journalists with whom Snowden communicated and are the people to whom he released his files, entrusting them to make the editorial decisions about what information in the files should be published.

In our conversation we discuss the similarities between the action of the Media burglars — the first people to ever release secret intelligence files — and Snowden, who did so 42 years later. We discuss the motivation of the people who made the files available both times and also the decision making by the journalists who received the files then and now.

Chris Weigant blogs at:

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The Washington Post’s Reid Wilson Joins Morning Consult To Launch Congress Section

May 17, 2015 by  
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NEW YORK — Washington Post political reporter Reid Wilson is leaving the paper to launch a Congress section for Morning Consult, a growing digital politics and policy outlet. Wilson will serve as the both Congress editor and chief political correspondent.

The addition of Wilson signals an expansion into congressional coverage for Morning Consult, which claims to reach 150,000 politics and policy insiders through email briefings focused on health, energy, finance and tech. Wilson, who was previously editor-in-chief of The Hotline and worked at The Hill and RealClearPolitics, is the biggest hire yet for the newsroom of eight full-time reporters.

While Morning Consult doesn’t have the name recognition of his most recent employer, Wilson suggested in an email that the journalism from its small staff will stand out by supplementing reporting with data from the company’s weekly national polls, sent out to 2,000 registered voters.

“The polling industry is going through a complete revolution, and decision makers are using the sorts of polls Morning Consult conducts to make strategic moves,” Wilson said. “We’re going to spot trends before they develop into the next big story.”

“The fact that we can bring so much data to the table is going to set us apart,” he added. “And I love the startup energy of the place. It feels like the next generation of Hotline.”

Michael Ramlet, the site’s publisher and founder, originally launched Morning Consult as a health care email while in college and began building it into a media company in 2013. Meghan McCarthy, a veteran of National Journal and Congressional Quarterly, joined that year and currently serves as editor-in-chief.

Though Ramlet has advised Republicans on policy matters, he said in an email that Morning Consult’s coverage has always been nonpartisan. Ramlet has a second company, Paragon Insights, which conducts private polling for partisan clients.

Morning Consult is supported by advertisements in its insider-focused email newsletters and sponsored polls, which the company recently introduced. Ramlet said the success of its healthcare briefing ads prompted him to expand into congressional coverage.

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#AMF2015 Tackles Politics, Religion, Ethics, Innovation

May 16, 2015 by  
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Toss some hot political issues, mix in religious extremism, factor some ethical considerations and blend in innovation to produce the most sought-after ticket in Arab media events.

“We’re facing an organic crisis; there’s an institutional failure (in the Arab world),” said Fawaz Gerges, Emirates Chair in Contemporary Middle Eastern Studies at the London School of Economics’ Department of International Relations.

“Arab Spring” is a misnomer says Fawaz Gerges (Abu-Fadil)

Gerges, a panelist at this week’s Arab Media Forum in Dubai, said the term “Arab Spring” was a misnomer.

He pointed to an ethical crisis in Arab media, adding that diversity didn’t mean professionalism and that the war of narratives only added fuel to the region’s multiple fires.

Identifying the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has caused countless headaches, lamented media decision makers. The forum’s audience was told that naming the organization by what it calls itself, the Islamic State (IS), is a major hassle for news agencies.

“We call it ‘Islamic State Group’ or ‘Islamic State Organization’ because it’s not a state and it doesn’t represent Islam,” noted Miche?le Le?ridon, global news director at Agence France-Presse (AFP).

AFP’s Miche?le Le?ridon tackles ISIS coverage (Abu-Fadil)

In a blogpost on AFP’s reaffirmation of ethical and editorial ground rules in covering ISIS, Le?ridon wrote that the challenge was to strike a balance between the agency’s duty to inform the public, the need to keep reporters safe, concern for the dignity of victims being paraded by extremists, and the need to avoid being used as a vehicle for hateful, ultraviolent propaganda.

Samia Nakhoul, Reuters‘ Middle East editor who also hammered away at the topic in a separate panel entitled “The Chaos of Ethics,” urged journalists “to exercise some modicum of self-censorship and responsibility to avoid harming others.”

Reuters’ Samia Nakhoul on media ethics (Abu-Fadil)

Nakhoul was seriously injured by an American tank shell lobbed at a Baghdad hotel where journalists were lodged while covering the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

She begged a TV reporter not to film her bandaged up in a hospital bed before being evacuated out of the country because her parents were unaware of her condition and were themselves medically unfit, but he did, causing much distress to her family, friends and colleagues.

A key question raised at the conference attended by over 2,000 participants was whether social media were a credible source of information and how much traditional media should rely on them, notably in conflict zones.

Arab Media Forum 2015 draws over 2,000 participants (Abu-Fadil)

Egyptian TV presenter and talk show host Moataz Al Demerdash said he only used social media for feedback from his audience but didn’t rely on them as sources of news.

Co-panelist and Saudi presenter on the MBC satellite channel Badria Al Beshr denounced tweeps who used Twitter as a platform for insults, sedition and sectarianism while claiming to speak in the name of religion.

A session entitled “Has the Media Forgotten the Palestinian Cause?” focused on the Arab world’s deepest festering wound.

“The Palestinian cause and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement are again at the forefront of international discourse,” said Mustafa Barghouti, general secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative.

Mustafa Barghouti (Abu-Fadil)

He added that while the world was witnessing the worst apartheid system in Palestine, the BDS and charges against the Israeli occupation and practices filed with the International Criminal Court were finally starting to make a dent in a bid to protect Palestinians’ rights.

The media forum, which partnered with Abu Dhabi Media, AFP, AP, Al Bayan, Dar Al Khaleej, Dubai Channels Network, Al Arabiya, Al Hadath, Sky News Arabia, Emarat Al Youm, Google, Al Ittihad newspaper, Reuters, Asharq Al-Awsat, CNN, and Facebook, also hosted a number of 20-minute workshops.

Al Arabiya mini TV studio at media forum (Abu-Fadil)’s editor-in-chief Meredith Artley, who conducted a brief talk on “Innovation and the Future of Digital Publishing,” said media should be responsive to their audiences’ and users’ needs by fashioning news for all platforms and devices.

Matt Waite, founder of the Drone Journalism Lab at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and Mass Communication, conducted another workshop on how these unmanned airborne vehicles have become a production tool for reporters and are used in gathering information.

Matt Waite demonstrates drone use (Abu-Fadil)

Capping the two-day event organized by the Dubai Press Club was the 14th Arab Journalism Award ceremony during which reporters, columnists, photojournalists and caricaturists from across the region were honored.

Award-winning caricature (Abu-Fadil)

Among the 17 winners was Lebanon’s Nathalie Eklimos from Al Joumhouriya daily for her report on mafias that steal rented cars from unsuspecting drivers.

Nathalie Eklimos’ report on car-stealing mafias (Abu-Fadil)

More than 5,000 entries competed for the coveted trophies and money in the categories of political, investigative, sports, intelligent, youth, interview, cultural, specialized, humanitarian, economic, and columnists journalism alongside photojournalism and caricatures.

The person of the year in media award went to the MBC Group of channels founder Walid Al Ibrahim.

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Healthy Bodies for a Sick World…

May 16, 2015 by  
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“Physical culture is in the air just now,” reflected P. G. Wodehouse in an article for Vanity Fair published a year before the “gentleman’s gentleman” entered the literary canon.

The essay described how the “average man” of post-Edwardian England “now postpones his onslaught on the boiled egg for a matter of fifteen minutes,” time devoted to a “series of bendings and stretchings which in the course of time are guaranteed to turn him into a demi-god.”

A century later and physical culture once again pervades. Earlier this week, a colleague in London penned an article highlighting the growth in female sports as symbolic of a wider trend towards health and fitness in the U.K.

The U.S. is similarly bending and stretching under the spell, with traditional gyms augmented by boutique fitness centers and juice shops in the country’s great metropolises.

My colleague cited figures on the mushrooming market for women’s sporting clothes to emphasize the refocus towards personal wellbeing, while noting the community aspect of modern fitness fueled by the carbs of “celebrity and media.”

She is certainly right on the community aspect, with a strong argument that gatherings around fitness have superseded the church and synagogue — brick victims of secularism’s powerful strides. As such, health could simply be the latest expression of the human need to experience transcendental emotion beyond the individual.

The fitness center is, after all, the modern incarnation of a religious cult, one that leans back beyond Wodehouse, even beyond the “muscular Christianity” of the Victorians and into antiquity with the Romans and ancient Greeks using exercise as a preparation for war.

Yet the current flowering may have more immediate psychological drivers too. Wodehouse wrote about the push towards “physical culture” in 1914, a year bandaged by the tumult of war wrought on both citizenry and soldiery.

Likewise, the 2008 financial crash (and its economic and political aftermath) blanketed the hitherto comfortable West in doubt, insecurity and a profound sense of unease.

Whereas Europe and America’s portly middle classes once relied on a career delivering sufficient recompense to raise a family, buy a house, enjoy vacations, and save for a comfortable retirement, the 2008 meltdown broke the illusion.

Banks crumbled, interest rates plummeted, employment fell and wages stagnated. Meanwhile, restrictions on lending created a generation for whom homeownership — the most basic emblem of long-term security — was denied.

Meanwhile, the rise of the Islamic State abroad was paralleled by anti-immigrant sentiment at home, the rats of the far-right resurfacing from the pipes and sewers to once again spread the bacilli of intolerance and hate.

For a generation, the system’s upheaval highlighted a lack of control in the world, a psychological blow that led many to turn inwards, attempting to regain control via dominance over their own bodies.

In a society unrestrained and a future unknown, perhaps exercise regimes, healthy eating and mindfulness offered a return to the illusion or at least a way to cope with the stress therein.

Writing the year the Great War was unleashed, Wodehouse scoffed at how “the advertisement pages of the magazines are congested with portraits of stern-looking, semi-nude individuals with bulging muscles and fifty-inch chests.”

The author lived to be 93, having practiced his own daily exercise regime for more than 50 years. Were he alive today, he may well have noted the plates of healthy food, yoga poses and shirtless pull-ups similarly congesting Instagram.

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Jon Stewart To Jeb Bush: ‘Thank You. Was That So Hard?’

May 15, 2015 by  
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Jeb Bush has finally come out and said he wouldn’t have invaded Iraq if he had all the information we have today.

Thank you,” Jon Stewart said on “The Daily Show” on Thursday night. “Was that so hard?”

As Stewart pointed out, it took a while for Bush to acknowledge this publicly, having been asked several times about whether he would have invaded Iraq if he knew what we know today. Bush first said he would have invaded Iraq, then later said he had misheard the question, but still refused to admit whether or not he would have sent in the U.S. military.

At another point, Bush said speculating was disrespectful to the soldiers who died in the war.

Then, speaking on Sean Hannity’s radio show, Bush admitted that “mistakes were made” in Iraq.

“Mistakes are always made in life,” Stewart said. “Like when you’re young and foolish and you’re alone out in the fields on a hot summer night and you promise your brother he can be president first if he just helps you bury the body and never says a word.”

Check out the clip above for more on “The Kin’s Speech.”

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Rush Limbaugh Tells Businesses To Blame Anti-Gay Bigotry On Muslims

May 14, 2015 by  
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Good ol’ Rush Limbaugh is at it again, and this time he is dishing up advice for businesses who want to deny services to same-sex couples: blame Muslims.

Limbaugh took on the subject of anti-gay discrimination on his radio show earlier this week. He blamed the American left for undermining religion and the institution of marriage and blamed “militant gay activists” for attacking business owners who refuse to serve same-sex couples because of religious beliefs. However, Limbaugh said, people who defend marriage equality also condemn offending Muslims with cartoon renderings of the Prophet Muhammad, even though Muslims might also be offended by same-sex marriage.

“I pointed out the other day, well, then should we maybe stop flouting and flaunting gay marriage, because gay marriage is really disapproved in Islam,” he said on the show. “Gay marriage, homosexual behavior is not tolerated, it is not permitted and it is punished severely when it is caught, when it’s spied. And yet in American media all over the place we are celebrating gay marriage, we are flaunting gay marriage, and I ask, does this not also offend Muslims?”

His suggestion to business owners was to cite “Muslim backlash” instead of religious freedom when denying service to gay couples.

Instead of telling the gay couple that you refuse to bake the cake for their wedding because you disapprove of homosexuality, you should now say you are not going to bake a cake for the gay wedding because you fear Muslim backlash. Or, due to your respect of Islam, you cannot bake a cake for a gay wedding. See how that flies. Since the left is agreeing, a bunch of people on the left have gone on TV, “I hate to say this, you know, Limbaugh’s got a point. We do flaunt gay marriage at ‘em, wow. Wow. That’s a good point. I mean, we readily agree not to do the thing with the prophet and the pictures and the cartoons, but gay marriage, yeah, we’re kind of in their face on that.

Not everyone is buying Limbaugh’s logic.

“Rush Limbaugh should just have the courage to say that he supports discrimination against gay Americans simply because of their sexual orientation as opposed to trying to use it as another opportunity to demonize Muslims,” writer and comedian Dean Obeidallah told The Huffington Post in an email. “As a Muslim American, I fully support marriage equality and find the denial of service to members of the LGBT community not just despicable but truly unAmerican. Hopefully people will wake up to threat of conservatives like Rush who want to turn their religious beliefs into American law. That is in essence Christian sharia law and has no place in our nation.”

Last month, Limbaugh ranted about a Muslim-run bakery in Dearborn, Michigan, that allegedly refused to serve a cake for a faux same-sex wedding in an edited hidden-camera stunt produced by comedian and Fox News contributor Steven Crowder.

Dearborn Sweets owner Miriam Khansa said she never refused Crowder service, according to Detroit ABC affiliate WXYZ. Her business has filled orders for same-sex weddings before, she told the station: “We were really bothered because whatever he was saying wasn’t true. Like I said, we accept everybody here.”

H/T Pink News

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NBC News Walks Back Report That Pakistani Officer Gave Bin Laden’s Location To CIA

May 13, 2015 by  
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NEW YORK — NBC News has walked back its Monday report that a Pakistani intelligence officer provided the CIA with Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts a year before the U.S. raid in May 2011, a claim that ran counter to the Obama administration’s narrative of events but supported a key detail in an explosive new story by investigative reporter Seymour Hersh.

On Monday afternoon, NBC News cited “two intelligence sources” claiming the Pakistani officer, a walk-in informant, “told the CIA where the most wanted man in the world was hiding.” NBC also reported that those two sources, along with a third, said “the Pakistani government knew where bin Laden was hiding all along.” The Obama administration has maintained that bin Laden was found through tracking his couriers to the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Monday evening, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell — who shared a byline on the story with investigative unit head Richard Esposito and reporters Matthew Cole and Robert Windrem –- reported the information on the “NBC Nightly News” and MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes.” The network heavily promoted the scoop, with an on-screen chyron during nearly all of Hayes’ 16-minute segment, featuring appearances by Hersh and Mitchell, that read: “NBC News: Pakistani Asset Told CIA Where Bin Laden Was Hiding.”

But NBC News has now added an editor’s note to the story that diminishes the Pakistani officer’s involvement and lacks the earlier specificity. Instead of pointing the CIA to bin Laden whereabouts, NBC News now reports that the officer “provided information vital to the hunt for bin Laden.”

The NBC News report received significant attention and pick-up because it dropped just as the news media was debating Hersh’s bombshell in the London Review of Books and amid strong pushback from the White House. Though the network didn’t corroborate several major claims in Hersh’s piece — President Obama originally planning to describe bin Laden’s killing as the result of a drone strike, high-level Pakistani involvement in the raid, and no firefight or sea burial — the report did initially back up his reporting on the Pakistani “walk-in.” As a result, NBC News’ report was interpreted by some in the media as giving more validity to Hersh’s controversial report.

What’s unclear from the editor’s note is whether NBC News sources changed their stories of the Pakistani officer’s involvement or if their version of events was misinterpreted by reporters.

Esposito referred this reporter to an NBC News spokeswoman. The spokeswoman did not provide additional comment.

Such backtracking on a major story comes at a significant moment for the network, as Esposito is leading NBC News’ internal investigation into claims made by suspended anchor Brian Williams and following a shake-up of the news division. It also comes just months after NBC News walked back a report surrounding attacks on Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris.

Now, NBC News’ story more closely matches a Tuesday AFP report that described the Pakistani officer as assisting in finding bin Laden. That AFP report didn’t describe the Pakistani defector as providing bin Laden’s whereabouts.

While both reports support Hersh’s description of a Pakistani “walk-in” giving information to the CIA in 2010, they stop short of backing up the claim that he provided bin Laden’s location to the agency.

However, Hersh did receive support Tuesday on that front from a journalist who extensively covered Pakistan and Afghanistan for more than a decade after the Sept. 11 attacks.

New York Times reporter Carlotta Gall wrote Tuesday that there had been rumors of a Pakistani defector within days of the U.S. raid, though she hadn’t corroborated the claim.

While researching a book two years after the raid, Gall said she heard from “a high-level member of the Pakistani intelligence service that the ISI had been hiding Bin Laden and ran a desk specifically to handle him as an intelligence asset.”

Gall said she learned after the book’s publication that “it was indeed a Pakistani Army brigadier … who told the CIA where Bin Laden was hiding, and that Bin Laden was living there with the knowledge and protection of the ISI,” the country’s spy service. Gall said she trusted the source of the information, which came secondhand from a friend “high enough in the intelligence apparatus to know what he was talking about.” However, she did not previously publish that detail in The Times because of the difficulty of corroborating it in the United States.

Hersh’s report is not surprisingly also generating attention, and follow-up, in Pakistan. The News, a Pakistani newspaper, also reported Tuesday that a former officer informed the CIA of bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad.

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Journalists Try Shaming Hillary Clinton Into Speaking To The Press

May 12, 2015 by  
Filed under Videos

NEW YORK –- In the months leading up to the 2008 Iowa caucus, reporters covering Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign grew increasingly frustrated by their lack of access to the Democratic frontrunner. Such complaints make for easy Twitter fodder these days, but two election cycles ago, journalist grumbling was still largely confined to the back of the press bus.

Now, as the front-running Clinton again dodges the press, reporters are more than willing to publicly acknowledge the snub. A flurry of recent articles suggest they hope to nudge the press-averse candidate into engaging with them by highlighting how infrequently she does.

Clinton has taken questions from members of the public in controlled settings, but has only answered nine questions from the press in the month since she declared her campaign. She’s avoided serious challenges from journalists on her policy positions and on recent controversies involving her exclusive use of a private email account while at the State Department and foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation.

Meanwhile, Republican candidates like Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Ted Cruz (Texas), and Rand Paul (Ky.), and likely candidate Jeb Bush, have done numerous interviews as Clinton has remained silent. Paul even joked in an interview with a New York Times reporter on Monday about how Clinton won’t speak to the paper.

So political reporters, starved for answers from Clinton, have resorted to covering their lack of access to her instead

National Journal highlighted Clinton’s lack of accessibility last month in a post aptly titled, “Here Are All Eight Media Questions Hillary Clinton Has Answered During Her Campaign.”

Amy Chozick, who has been on the Clinton beat for The New York Times since the summer of 2013, launched a recurring post last week featuring questions the Times would’ve asked the candidate “had we had the opportunity.”

On Monday, The Washington Post Chris Cillizza published a post titled, “Hillary Clinton hasn’t answered a question from the media in 20 days.”

And ABC News followed up Tuesday morning with, “Hillary Clinton Hasn’t Answered a Press Question in 21 Days (And Her Opponents Are Taking Notice).”

Later on Tuesday, The Washington Post took the shaming up a notch by unveiling a countdown clock that tracks the time that has elapsed since Clinton last answered a question. (Fox News tried something similar in 2008 in hopes of getting then-candidate Barack Obama to appear on the network).

Clinton’s 2016 campaign surely has its reasons for keeping the press at arm’s length, and it may end up being a savvy move. But such a controlled media strategy could also lead to an uneasy relationship between reporters and a candidate they never really get to know, something Politico’s Glenn Thrush described in a recent piece about the 2008 campaign.

“I was there, on the eve of the Iowa caucuses, when Clinton boarded the press bus for the very first time to offer a bag of Dunkin Donuts bagels as a peace offering after months of giving us the stiff arm,” Thrush wrote. “The candidate was smiling, but her eyes said something different—and so did her feet, which never budged past the white line that separates bus driver from passenger. It is the only time I can ever recall a group of reporters happy to see a major newsmaker depart.”

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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